LED technology and the shaping of culture

Cubitt, Sean. 2009. LED technology and the shaping of culture. In: Scott McQuire; Meredith Martin and Sabine Niederer, eds. Urban Screens Reader. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, pp. 97-108. ISBN 978-90-78146-10-0 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Much has been written and debated concerning the social and cultural benefits as well as the commercial applications of large screens in public places. Siting, content and aesthetics have been considered in the light of architecture, urban planning, human geography, sociology, media and communications and the visual arts. Little has been said so far on the technical infrastructures, at least outside the concerns of engineers and operators charged with purchasing or leasing screens. This essay is intended to help bridge that gap. It undertakes an overview of the technologies involved at the hardware and protocol levels in the operation of the large screen in Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. In the first instance, it looks at LED technology. It backs that up with the protocols – in this instance the compression decompression algorithms or codecs – which underlie video projection. This first analytical section suggests that there is a history and, because of that, a series of constraints to the design of the technologies deployed in urban screens. The second interpretative section uses some of the ideas circulating among contemporary media and communications researchers to inquire whether the fit between hardware and codecs expresses a particular kind of social organisation, and whether, if that is the case, innovation in design and content is inevitably constrained by those historically inherited features, or whether understanding them may be an avenue to innovation.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

19 Oct 2015 08:43

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 13:53



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